Rafa Cabrera Bello beats Shinkwin in play-off to win Scottish Open

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Rafa Cabrera Bello produced one of the shots of the tournament before tapping in his putt for birdie and victory on the first play-off hole at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.

With a stroke of luck to miss the burn on his approach to the final hole of regulation play, Cabrera Bello finished with a birdie to set the clubhouse lead at 13 under par with a course record of 64.

The 33-year-old Spaniard carded eight birdies during his blemish free round at Dundonald Links, but still lay one shot adrift of England's Callum Shinkwin.

Shinkwin, looking for his first European Tour victory, stood on the 18th tee with a one-shot advantage over Cabrera Bello, but pushed his approach shot left of the green on the par-five and was left with a tricky third shot over a bunker.

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He pitched it in to the bank just over the trap, but it failed to make it over the hill and rolled back down the slope away from the hole. His fourth ended up around four feet away, but Shinkwin left his only putt of the day short by just a couple of inches to card his first bogey of the day and force the play-off. 

Both men found the middle of the fairway on the first play-off hole, but Shinkwin, who was up first, yet again pushed his approach shot left of the green in almost a carbon copy of the shot he’d hit around 20 minutes earlier.

Cabrera Bello hit his own approach to within 10 feet, and while he missed his eagle attempt by a few inches, his tap in birdie was enough as Shinkwin narrowly failed to get up and down.

His third European Tour victory comes five years after his last at the 2012 Omega Dubai Desert Classic, and the Spaniard was delighted to get over the line at the fourth Rolex Series event.

“Obviously extremely happy. I had won before and I’d been up there so many times. I was starting to feel a little bit of pressure everytime I was up there contending.”

“I have been really working hard to get the third win to get under my belt. I have struggled with it, but today I just felt it was a good day. Everything turned out the be fantastic.”

Watch as Rafa Cabrera Bello plays the first play-off hole against Callum Shinkwin to win the Scottish Open at Dundonald Links

“I just think that today I had that little bit of luck that I needed. I did everything I needed to do well, I stayed patient, I didn’t get down on myself, I putted good and I really trusted myself. I played the best golf of my life”

“In the play-off I really gave it a go and I’m really happy it worked out. Those are the moments we practice for, I truly enjoy those pressure situations – they really define you.”

His victory, which will now move him in to the World's top 20, was the second consecutive Rolex Series and European Tour win for a Spaniard, as Jon Rahm won the Irish Open the previous week. 

Shinkwin was obviously disappointed, but the silver lining to his second place finish is the guarantee of a spot in The Open at Royal Birkdale next week. 

“It’s great, I got in there last year through France and this year my game feels better so hopefully I can play a bit better”

Overnight leaders Andrew Dodt and Ian Poulter struggled to maintain form during the final day’s play, with Dodt carding a one-over par 73 and Poulter a shot further adrift to end up 7-under for the tournament.

Matthieu Paven posted a six-under 66 on Sunday to end up solo third at 10-under-par and secure the other spot at Royal Birkdale next week along with Shinkwin and Dodt, with Dodt having to cancel the trip to New York he’d planned with his wife to take up his spot at his first major tournament.

Dodt said “I found myself being really mentally fatigued. I knew the Open spot was right on the line. I’ve finally done it, I’ve got my first major."

Padraig Harrington, Anthony Wall, Matt Kuchar and Ryan Fox shared fourth place with Andrew Dodt at eight-under, while Rickie Fowler, Soren Kjeldsen, Lee Slattery, Andy Sullivan and Robert Rock made up the rest of the top 10 in a tie for ninth with Ian Poulter at 7-under.